Welcome to your one-stop resource for gardening in August. If you always feel like you don’t have enough time for gardening, or just need some guidance on what to focus on each month, this is the series for you!
You can check out my garden jobs for every other month in this post.
Gardening in August
We’re at that stage of summer where all the hard work in the garden should be really paying off, in the form of healthy plants and lots of flowers to enjoy. I think this part of the year is actually quite lazy, with an emphasis on sitting back and enjoying the view, but there are still a few jobs that are worth ticking off the list.
Here are some ideas for ideal gardening jobs to tackle if you’re gardening in August.
Help containers and baskets to carry on blooming
Container displays can start to look a bit worse for wear by this point in summer, but there are a few simple things you can do to perk them up.
Start by removing and dead stems, leggy growth, and faded flowers. This will create a neater look, and also encourage your plants to produce more flowers instead of setting seed.
It’s also a great idea to feed your container plants this month, as they may have exhausted the nutrients in their compost by now. A general purpose plant food designed for flowers and shrubs is ideal. You can buy these in *granule and *liquid form. You can also make your own natural plant feed from comfrey or nettle leaves.
Make sure you continue to water your containers and hanging baskets regularly too – especially if the weather is really warm.
Finally, you can always cheat a little bit! Adding a few new bedding plants to your containers is a low cost way to give them a new lease of life and keep them looking good right into autumn.
Tidy up borders
By this point in summer you will probably have a few perennial plants in the garden that have passed their best. You can cut these back this month to keep borders looking tidy, and give other plants space to flourish.
You can also take the opportunity to apply a mulch to your newly-cleared borders, to help nourish the soil and protect tender plants in the colder months.
Continue to weed little and often
Gardening in August inevitably involves staying on top of the weeds. It’s a job you need to do all summer if you want to avoid a big weeding project at a later date. Continue to remove weeds regularly this month, and you’ll stop them getting too established.
Start collecting seeds
Plants that have finished flowering will be developing seed heads now, so this month you can start collecting seeds. Saving seeds from your plants is a great way to get more plants for free, and it’s really not difficult.
Choose a dry day to harvest your seeds. Snip off the stem just below the seed head, and pop it into a paper bag or envelope where you can shake the seeds out and discard the rest of the seed head. Remember to label each bag!
Try not to harvest every single seed head. Leaving a few on the plant can provide structure and interest later in the year, while also being a food source for local wildlife. Leaving seed heads will also mean the plant can self-seed in the soil nearby.
Keep watering regularly
The garden will still be thirsty this month, so don’t neglect the regular watering. Avoid watering little and often; this encourages plants to make roots near the surface, which makes them more vulnerable to drying out. Instead, water the soil around plants thoroughly, so the water can really soak in and drench the roots.
Plants growing in containers are particularly prone to drying out in summer, so keep a close eye on your pots and hanging baskets.
For more tips on effective garden watering in summer, check out this post.
Take cuttings of tender perennials
If you’re worried about tender plants surviving winter, you can take cuttings of them now as an insurance policy. This is also a great way to increase your stock of plants.
Fuschia, salvia, verbena, pelargonium, penstemon and coleus are all good candidates for taking cuttings this month. The RHS has a great guide to taking cuttings here.
You will need to give your cuttings some protection over winter, so make sure you think about how much space you have before you get carried away!
Organise holiday plant care
If you’re heading off on holiday and don’t want to return home to sorry-looking plants, you’ll need to arrange some care while you’re away.
If a friend or neighbour can’t pop in and do some watering, you might want to consider setting up an automatic watering system, these usually work by connecting them to a tap or water butt so they can drip-water your plants. Alternatively, put all pots and containers in your shadiest area, put trays under them, and fill with water on the day you leave. Give the whole garden a really good soak on this day too.
Don’t forget your houseplants too; I’ve got lots of tips for keeping them alive while you’re away in this post.
Now is a good time to prune any shrubs that flower in midsummer, to keep them looking good and growing vigorously. Buddleja, Laurel, Philadelphus and Callistemon (Bottlebrush) are all good candidates for a tidy-up in August.
Tender shrubs such as fuschia can also be pruned this month if they’ve finished flowering. Use *secateurs to remove the oldest stems at the base, this will encourage new growth for next year’s flowers.
Hedges will soon stop growing, so it’s a good idea to give them a final trim this month.
Take stock of this year’s garden
For me, gardening in August isn’t just about doing; it’s also about reviewing and planning. This is a great month to identify what has worked well in the garden this year – and what hasn’t! – while plants are still putting on a show.
Take a stroll around your garden, and make a note of things like gaps in borders, plants that have worked well together, plants that are struggling, and any areas of the garden that are in need of some maintenance.
It’s a good idea to take a few pictures while you’re doing this, to help you remember how things look. You might also like to draw some rough sketches of borders and plant positions.
Once you’ve done your garden review, you’ll be in a great position to plan next year’s garden, including which plants you want to move or introduce, and when you’re going to tackle any maintenance jobs.
As well as planning, make sure you take some time to sit back and enjoy summer in the garden this month. It makes all the hard work worthwhile, and it’s a great mood booster too!
What to plant in August
August is definitely a less hectic summer month in the garden, but if you’d still like to start off some new plants, there are plenty of options to choose from. For a full list, head over to my post on what to plant in August.
What jobs are you tackling in the garden this month?